My Passport Renewal Ordeal: A Plea of Clemency to Neuter Redundancy

NOTHING SIPHONS THE VIRILITY OF LIFE FROM ME

Or chafes my undercarriage so excruciatingly raw, as the Soul-extracting ordeal of renewing government-issue ID.

Arguably, surpassed only by the irreverent Ontario Motor Vehicle Licensing Offices for grandiose ineptitude, time-whoring stalls, and their inimitable mantra of:

We Guarantee No Ef’s To Be Given While The Line You’re Rotting In Will Ever Get Any Shorter.”

It’s a small mercy the hellish act of renewing a Canadian Passport now comes but once a decade.

Albeit, for an additional fee.

I vowed this time would be different.

Was it?

TIME TO GET READY

My morning prep – a nefarious daily routine of manly aesthetic re-enhancement – started with a remarkably close shave.

A modicum of intricate man-scaping, the particulars are not important to the re-telling of this story.

And, for the sake of brevity.

Lest, you know.

My well celebrated 22-second Infliction of Chemical Warfare whilst wrestling my vanity into submission with the insufferably banal Coif du jour that was, at the very moment, behaving badly.

Showing no signs of remorse, let alone cooperative engagement in transforming me from a mummified scarecrow into anything passably dignified and resembling good citizenry, I accepted my inevitable fate:

It was destined to be a Sh!tty Hair Day.

WARDROBE DISCLAIMER

By any definition of the term, Clothes Horse, I seek refuge immunity from persecution by the commanding Fashion & Style Gestapo in knowing I’m not even a mere pony in such regards.

Yet, admittedly, while navigating through my winter inventory of sweaters and shirts – the Simple Math suggests I have some 297 possible options (formulaic permutations) – when coordinating these two items with any pair of size-appropriate pants hanging in my closet.

I selected a snappy Italian Merino Wool V-neck in an alluring deep blue over a punchy bold check, button-down shirt.

Okay, then.

Quite pleased I’d pulled together this, “Hey, now, I’m getting my stupid picture taken” ensemble with minimal fuss.

Anyone else couldn’t give a steamy dump what I looked like.

ITS NOT AN OCCASION TO IMPRESS

As my image – headshot – would be scrutinized by untold international luminaries (alright, airport personnel) in several countries over the next ten years, I figured representing the Proud Maple Leaf as best as vanity would permit under the prevailing Draconian photo hack limitations, was the move.

I warmed up by cracking out a few Selfies at home, which wouldn’t make it anywhere but the delete Abyss.

I needed to get my Blue Steel Constipated Pinocchio on.

Knowing the assigned provocateur of government-approved portraits – presumably a part-time university student – at the neighborhood Shoppers Drug Mart would be as giddy and engaging in my impromptu photo shoot …

… as a Gaggle of Nuns frisked for contraband before a pre-screening of Magic Mike XXXL …

… provided little assurance I wouldn’t end up as another duck-faced caricature.

THE HORROR SHOW IS REAL

It was mid-afternoon when I abandoned KUCHED for the day.

Resplendent with my 9+ hours at the keyboard and a couple not quite Meh-ish articles in the can, I had the rest of the day – and the night, if I wanted – to burn away.

The exalted luxuries of writing at-home.

And, insomnia.

FAIL #1

Attenzione, Dear SDM.

If you’re going to overcharge by a zillion percent for passport photos – and you certainly do this quite well – please have a digital camera that is adequately maintained and works properly.

If it needs the flash fixed.

Get it fixed.

Before I get there.

Or, anyone else goes through this unnecessarily tortuous waste of time.

How about a complimentary reach around and float a coupon my way?

I’m always jonseing for the latest in toothbrush and flossing technology.

Small compensation for the grave inconvenience and contributor to my vanity-riddled anxiety.

WHAT I LEARNED

I look a dozen-years older less younger in my current passport photo compared to the oafish pic taken 5 years ago. 

Unflattering, which until the moment, never thought was possible.

It’s a gray thing, mostly.

Plus the age lines.

And, the bags …

Damn it, if this is the very photograph that media will use if ever I’m convicted of a victimless crime and make a lead story, or worst, is posted at my wake …

Why are glamor shots prohibited from official government issued ID?

FAIL #2

The Adult Simplified Renewal Passport Application is 4 pages too long.

Its a misnomer.

Redundant would be more apropos in the titular heading, and substitute nicely for Simplified.

One page is about right.

This is a renewal.

Surely, Canada, you must have stored and made available for immediate retrieval in the vastness of your Official Records vaults all requisite and ancillary data.

So, why must I remind you?

And, hey, while you’re down there searching for my records …

FAIL #3

Hurry it up, Ragazzi.

Four weeks to process anything is an eternity squared.

Again, its renewal time, folks.

Click here.

Tap there.

Swipe left or right.

We’re in Voila land.

For an exorbitant $160 fee, why isn’t this tax deductible by the way?

SORRY, I FORGOT THE SIMPLE MATH

37,000,000 Canadians x $160 … 

When I travel abroad, I’m a bona fide, yet uncompensated, Ambassador of All Things Canadian.

I represent a truth and reality of Canadianism.

Beyond hockey – Tim Horton’s – the Maple Leaf, and two official languages.

And, countless transient cultures melded into one incredible Nation.

$5,920,000,000 over 10 years.

Cha-Ching.

I AM NOT ALONE IN MY DIGRESSION

Canadians travelling outside of the country are ideal model citizens wherever we go.

Except to Vegas.

And, Quebec.

Relax, who doesn’t appreciate dated jokes?

Would it be a stretch to suggest – while doing our Canuckiest Beavery Best – our innate and affable disposition as Maple Syrup Goodwill Ambassadors collectively lures in foreign tourist dollars?

FAIL #4 – BACK TO IT

The hits keep coming. 

Yes, I could’ve avoided the unbearable discomfort of visiting a local Passport Office and simply dumped my renewal app along with my soon to be expired Passport in the mail.

Wait, what?

There’s an always convenient Canada Post Strike.

NOW, HERE’S WHY I DIDN’T

The Big Rash Rub.

On two previous excursions to renew my oldest son’s passport we were twice denied he is a natural born Canadian, and was at the time, a minor due to some inexcusable and unexplainable faux paus phuck’ry that was never made entirely clear.

Culpability evidently stems from an internal Clusterfeltchno, this not a pretty word meant to pay complements, but you get the idea – which not a single administrator in any official capacity is copping blame.

I prefer to settle disputes in person.

IT SNOWED

Like a bugger on the day I chose to go.

But I went.

Like the doofus.

I am.

And was greeted with a parking lot – and the two neighboring parking lots – overflowing with icy, white-capped vehicles.

So, I left.

My battle would wait 24 hours.

DAY 2

Occasionally as I’m doing with increasing frequency I eat my words.

Not because I have an insatiable craving for pulp and ink.

I have an in-bred tendency to run off at the lip without first riding through the storm.

Entering the parking lots I decide to forego the always disappointing path of finding a spot close to the entrance.

So, wisely, I opted for the only vacant parking space a good walking distance way.

Ironically, right next to the Post Office.

WINTER BITES

Cold and slushy, I danced around … 

Astonished to find the interior of the newish Service Canada office lightly dotted with like-minded applicants.

The unemployed.

The new to Canada.

Those waiting to flee.

THE LONE WOLF & MAKER OF SMALL MIRACLES

There was only one other soul inhabiting the line.

Correction, the first pre-line up.

Human staging area.

Stretched out in a half dozen queues.

And, love this man.

In his ‘Dog The Bounty Hunter’ – Oh, So Platinum Blonde – Mullet, ushering me in ahead of him.

Wrong line.

He looked lost.

I WAS GREETED

As in, “Hello, how may I help you?”

By a Millennial – not nose deep in a smart phone – and wasn’t he pleasant?

We got on fabulously.

He’d assured me that the wait for processing was short, and directed me to a carpeted area next to a Canadian flag where one woman stood vigilantly On Guard For Thee.

Pre-screening.

HERE WE GO NOW

My wait was truncated with only a couple minutes to engage in random nothingness. 

I tend not to check my cell phone more than 11 times a minute.

So, this was eternity-like.

Through to the second Millennial, and not unnoticeably, equally as pleasant and accommodating as the first.

Besties.

Finally, onto the next warm body – a Silverback – probably months away from pension.

I haven’t a clue what this man’s job title is.

I suspect the job description actually denotes, ” … pretends to look over the application … “

A raised eyebrow.

A sniffle.

I’m looking at a small photo posted in his cubicle of a big fish he caught.

Meh.

Here comes the date stamp from the right …

After I’m scalped for the One-Sixty.

Carl smiles me out the door and into the cold.

UNNECESSARY DIGRESSION #1

Oh, Canada, we’re all good, Baby.

Though I’m clearly not enamored with the nearly Six Billion cash grab at stake, here’s how I’d blow it:

TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS

Buy it.

The Country – lock, stock and barrel – as a British overseas territory in the Caribbean, it’s been over a 100 years since Canada first flirted with the idea of annexing this gem, and have been doing so periodically.

Vacationing Canuckleheaded Frostbacks need an affordable tropical retirement alternative and prime holiday destination where Loonies are valued.

TCI is it.

Make the call, close the deal.

Price: $1,000,000,000

BUFFALO BILLS

Buy it and move across the lake to Toronto.

Enough with the carrot dangling.

Rename the Toronto Toros.

Right, its been taken.

By a long defunct Hogtown franchise in the former WHA.

Build a new stadium (budgeted in price).

Price: $2,000,000,000

NORDIQUES DE QUÉBEC

Bring back the Québec Nordiques to the NHL.

Merci, Beaucoup.

Bienvenue.

Price: $750,000,000

BURY THE GARDINER EXPRESSWAY

Right, throw more government money – taxpayers cash – at The Big Smoke.

Agreed.

Time to tunnel under Toronto.

Its a hideous monstrosity.

A commuters nightmare by the lake.

Price: $2,000,000,000

WHAT ABOUT THE BALANCE?

Listen to momma, “Invest it, wisely.”

Health care and education.

Ditto, the profits from the Nordiques and the Bills.

Pay it forward.

AND, THIS

To the not always affable and disproportionately smug Lifers occupying their vaulted perches at the OMVLO:

Thank you.

For never saying, “Thank you.”

To the customer.

Or cracking a window.

LET’S MAKE CANADA MEH AGAIN!

I’m not getting audited, am I?